News at Smith

Gary Swart: Seasoned CEO Turned Silicon Valley Angel Investor

Oct 03, 2017
Entrepreneurial Spirit


The Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship produces Bootstrapped, a podcast featuring founders, investors and serial entrepreneurs. The podcast is hosted by Elana Fine, Managing Director of the Dingman Center, and Joe Bailey, Associate Research Professor at the Smith School. Each episode brings a different startup story to life with special guests offering advice and lessons learned on topics that range from fundraising and marketing to team formation and customer acquisition.

On this episode of Bootstrapped, we interviewed venture capitalist and UMD alumnus Gary Swart. Gary operates out of Silicon Valley as a general partner at Polaris Partners, a Boston VC firm that invests in technology and healthcare companies. Prior to his role at Polaris Partners, Gary was CEO of oDesk, a job-search platform that aimed to be the number one destination for job-seekers looking to work remotely. During his eight-year stint as CEO, Gary gained keen insights on customer acquisition, global expansion and staying ahead of competitors, lessons that as an investor he imparts to the entrepreneurs he works with. In this episode, Gary describes the challenges of being CEO, the key factors a startup needs before seeking investment and the differences between the startup ecosystems of Boston and Silicon Valley.

Gary Swart is a tech executive with decades of experience including general management of all size organizations, sales, operations, staffing methods and internet platform strategy. Until April 2014, Gary was the CEO of oDesk, guiding the company to industry-leadership and through a merger with Elance.
Prior to oDesk, Gary's career grew from early entrepreneurial ventures, to a top executive position at IBM. Throughout, he has excelled at building high-performance, innovative and exceptionally loyal teams.on how to craft a successful path—giving more than 30 fireside talks last year alone.

To listen to this episode and gain further insights into the startup world, subscribe to Dingman Bootstrapped on iTunes or download the episodes on the Dingman Center website.



About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business 

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty masters, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.